General Kelly Speaks

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
It was another eventful week in DC. Donald Trump paraded Mitch McConnell out into the Rose Garden and said that he and the senate leader are closer than ever, not long after he called Steve Bannon, who is dead set on destroying McConnell, ‘a friend.’  John McCain, looking very frail, gave a speech about American values, which Trump took as an attack on him.  Therefore the president threatened to ‘hit back’ at an old man who is dying of brain cancer.  His intended drug czar, Marino, had to withdraw his candidacy because ’60 Minutes’ exposed him as a facilitator of massive opioid distribution, and it was revealed that Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security, was in a key White House position when hurricane Katrina hit and at the heart of the screw-up that followed.  The president signed an executive order to end the Obamacare subsidies for low-income Americans, and subsequently endorsed the bi-partisan Alexander-Murray bill that would allow those subsidies to continue.  Later he changed his mind again, alledgedly because the insurance companies would benefit from the subsidies, and at this point his position on the bill is unclear.

But all that excitement was overshadowed by the events that followed the deaths of four Green Berets in Niger.  Asked why he had not yet contacted the families of the dead servicemen Trump suggested that he was the first president to make phone calls to the relatives, something that almost immediately proved to be untrue, and all hell broke loose after the president finally made a call to the widow of one of the deceased.  A Democratic congresswoman and friend of the family who listened in on the call mentioned publicly that Trump had said ‘he knew what he signed up for, although I guess it still hurts,’ which was considered insensitive and hurtful by both the widow and the mother of the soldier.  In his attempt to disparage the way Obama handled these situations Trump had dragged his Chief of Staff, John Kelly, whose son died in 2010 in Afghanistan, into the mud, and now Kelly had to absolve the president at a White House press briefing by remembering the words that were used when he was informed about his son’s death, and relaying how he had suggested to the president to use those very same words in his phone call to the widow.

As George Will puts it, Donald Trump is not on friendly footing with the English language, and the president garbled Kelly’s ‘he died doing what he loved to do, and was surrounded by the best people on earth, his friends’ into a sentence that could easily be misunderstood.  Unfortunately Kelly didn’t limit himself to his own experience and the good intentions of the president, but he also attacked the congresswoman for her behavior at an unrelated event, misstating facts that could easily be verified.

Next to his impressive personal story, his defense of Trump and his unwarranted attack on the congresswoman that had racist undertones, Kelly also made clear that he firmly believes the myth that every American soldier is serving out of the most noble motives, disregarding that many have enlisted because it is the only way they can make a living, buy a house or eventually go to college.

During this whole episode Trump’s pathological narcissism was on full display.  He succeeded in making the deaths of the servicemen about himself, by complaining that it is so ‘difficult’ for him to make these calls, and showed once again his inability to rate his own behavior as less than perfect.

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